Power projects should improve reliability

"Using everything from silicone injections to tree wire and plowing, Puget Sound Energy is working on projects aimed at providing a more dependable power supply to South Whidbey residents next winter.Karl Kirn, community relations manager, recently released a list of projects that the electric company has funded for 2000. We've I.D.'d a number of areas for improvements, he said.Among the improvement techniques are silicone injection, in which silicone is literally injected into older wires to give them longer life.It's like putting oil on something, Kirn said. It's proven technology. Tree wire is a special kind of wire less susceptible to being knocked out by falling tree limbs. And in some cases lines are being buried. When it makes sense we go underground, Kirn said.Some of the projects were recommended by the Community Advisory Committee of South Whidbey residents that was established last year in response to concerns about too many power outages. Our commitment in September was to inform them what was funded, Kirn said. That committee's work is now finished.Here are Puget Sound Energy's South Whidbey projects scheduled for this year. Some have already been completed. Langley Circuit 16, Cultus Bay Road tree wireReconductor 2 miles of feeder on Cultus Bay Road from Highway 525 to Deer Lake Road with tree wire. Langley 16 is one of the worst circuits on Whidbey Island year after year.Status: Completed, February 2000.Greenbank-13, Resort Road underground conversionPlow 4,500 feet of primary underground cable from Highway 525 to Harbor Grove to replace 2,900 feet of overhead system and relocate a section of cross-country line on the main road. This area of 96 customers is subject to frequent outages.Status: On target to complete in 2000.Brooks Hill-15, replace wireReplace 0.7 miles of overhead wire with larger wire. This system is located near salt water and has experienced severe corrosion. There are also 45 splices in the conductors, which has also contributed to the reduced integrity of the wire. Replacement of the aging conductors maintains the current carrying capacity and prevents outages which result from splice failures and conductor failure.Status: Currently being engineered for construction in 2000.Langley-16, Skatchet Head underground conversionThis area is subjected to frequent and multiple tree-related outages affecting 266 customers within Scatchet Head. Recommended solution is a combination of underground conversion and aggressive tree trimming and removal. Replace overhead distribution by plowing 4,600 feet of cable on Scatchet Heat Road from Bailey Road to Swede Hill Road and then along Swede Hill Road to the entrance to Skatchet Head.Status: On target to complete in 2000.Brooks Hill-15 Saratoga Road UG conversion/tree wireReplace approximately 1.4 miles of the existing overhead system on Saratoga Road with underground conductor and reconductor 2 spans with tree wire. 206 customers along Saratoga Road are subjected to frequent outages. This section of the circuit is subjected to frequent heavy tree related damage.Status: On target to complete in 2000.Greenbank-13, install regulatorInstall 328 amp regulators on Highway 525, north of Classic Road. This will provide adequate voltage levels under single outage conditions to feed Freeland 15 or backfeed Greenbank 13 from Freeland 15.Status: Engineering is complete, construction scheduled for May 2000.Langley-16, Scatchet Head vegetation managementThis area is subjected to frequent and multiple tree related outages affecting 266 customers within Scatchet Head. Recommended solution is a combination of underground conversion and aggressive tree trimming and removal. Vegetation management activities are proposed along the entire length of George Drive and along Fidalgo Drive. This project would coincide with the Skatchet Head underground conversion.Status: Work is tentatively scheduled for June based on regulations restricting activity near or around bald eagle nests and blue heron rookeries in the project vicinity.Langley-16, Deer Lake Road tree wireReplace 4,000 feet of feeder on Deer Lake Road from Cultus Bay Road to Holst Road with tree wire. This project will reduce tree and limb related outages to the Deer Lake Road area. It will also improve reliability on this line which serves as an alternate feed to Langley-12 which serves the Clinton business district.Status: Completed March 2000.Bells Beach, cable injectionInject silicone in cable along Bells Beach Road. This project is a combination of silicone injections and replacement of aging underground cable serving the Bells Beach area. Approximately 650 feet of cable was injected, extending the life of the cable, and approximately 675 feet of cable is to be replaced along Bells Beach Lane outside of Langley. Outages due to underground cable failure will be prevented by this work.Status: The injection portion of the project was completed early in the year. The cable replacement portion has been released to the contractor and is in progress.Sandy Point, UG conversionA joint project of Puget Sound Energy and the Sandy Point Homeowners Association, it placed 10,000 feet of cable underground, mainly for aesthetic improvement, but also for increased reliability.Status: Nearly complete.Kirn also pointed out that in 1999 Puget Sound Energy completed more than a dozen system improvements on Whidbey Island, as identified in a document called the Whidbey Island Reliability Report."

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